Tuesday, November 26, 2013

ESD to pay $300,000 (of Forest City Ratner's money) to lawyers who won Atlantic Yards timetable case

From my article in the Commercial Observer, State to Pay $300,000 to Lawyers Who Won Atlantic Yards Timetable Case:
Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the Atlantic Yards megadevelopment in Brooklyn, has agreed to pay $300,000 in fees to lawyers representing two community coalitions that won a lingering lawsuit over the project’s timetable.
The lawyers successfully challenged the agency’s decision, in 2009, to extend the potential build-out of the project to 25 years, while only studying the impact of a five-year delay on a project long billed as taking 10 years.
The fee is actually paid by Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner, which, as is customary, agreed to pay for litigation, as well as an environmental review ordered by the state agency. The $300,000 represents about 83 percent of the sum requested by the attorneys.
However it seems like a loss, the $300,000 may simply be the cost of doing business for Forest City, which, had a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement been ordered in 2009 as the community groups requested, might have faced a stall in construction of the Barclays Center and thus continued massive losses on the New Jersey Nets, which at that point were owned mainly by developer Bruce Ratner and partners.
The winning petitioners were Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, which fought Atlantic Yards, and a group of civic groups under the BrooklynSpeaks banner that have generally tried to mend the project rather than end it.
Read the full article to learn why such a victory is unusual, why Empire State Development decided not to appeal, and why the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement is going slowly

Also note that the funds distributed in the settlement not only reimburse the winning attorneys, but also leave the prevailing parties with some additional cash, potentially to be used for further Atlantic Yards-related challenges.

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